Companies and operations should always teach, train, and develop the next leaders within their ranks who will carry it to the next level of success. - Photo: Canva

Companies and operations should always teach, train, and develop the next leaders within their ranks who will carry it to the next level of success. 

Photo: Canva

Six years ago, when we began to hire our first few mechanics at Slick, we realized that we had an opportunity.

The technology aspect of the business was easy for us. It would take some time and lots of money, but we could completely control that process.

However, it would be much more challenging to build a winning culture in a nationwide workforce, one that results in personal growth for our employees and excellence for our customers.

But what if we could do it? What if we could hire and inspire greatness in a national "blue collar" workforce? What if we created a plan to assist them in becoming better people and world-class leaders?

It would make a big difference for the company.

So, we took a piece of chalk and wrote on an oversized chalkboard in our initial hub in Baltimore our first core value as a company:

We Leverage Technology but WIN with People

  • And while some companies in our space have developed software without the service component.
  • And others have outsourced or franchised or never bothered to develop their service component.
  • We are ALL IN with both technology AND our mechanics.

What Strategies Do We Use to Accomplish This?

 We inspire our workers with 3 messages:

  1. I Am Proud of You: You might not have heard it much in your past. But we will say it. Work hard. Don’t quit. Maximize your skill set. Learn new ones. Get up when you fall. And we will shout from the hilltops how proud we are of you.
  2. You are a Competent Provider: It’s not charity. You earn it. And when you earn it, nobody can take it from you. And as you increase your value, increased pay, bonuses, employee shares and opportunities follow.
  3. The Feeling of Winning is Worth the Effort: Deep down we all want to prove we can win in a cause worth fighting for. So, let’s go compete and win. And the smile when we get it done will be the most rewarding aspect of the journey.

Be creative. Deliver these three messages repeatedly in as many ways as possible.

Remember, leaders are repeaters.

We Invest in Our Workers in These 3 Ways

1: Include them in the adventure of growing the business

Why do we tend to sit in meetings with our “white collar” teams and talk about every aspect of the business, but we never include the people who do the work in the field? Seems dumb!

At Slick, we have a call every Thursday at 3 pm ET where EVERY mechanic across the nation joins a video call and for 20 or 30 minutes we hold ourselves accountable to our mission, celebrate our wins, visualize our future, address our failures, and repeat key messages that inspire us all to be the best we can be for the good of our company and the people we care about.

This call always happens. As the president, I will NEVER miss it, and have never missed it in six-plus years.

Why do I lead it? Because there is nothing more important to our success than the Slicksters who serve our customers every single shift. We invest in them accordingly. Honestly, it is the highlight of my week, every week.

2: Promote from within

The best opportunities are rewarded to the people who have proven themselves at Slick, know our culture and our values, and are able to train the next Slicksters in these core beliefs. We are always teaching, training, and developing the next leaders within our company who will carry us to the next level of success. Because everything rises and falls on leadership. And culture always slips through the cracks if you don’t fight to keep it. We promote from within the people who have proven themselves.

3: Develop an established growth track   

We run a cash-efficient business filled with people who work hard, know their roles and goals, keep score, and execute. It is in this environment that we grow and learn and advance as individuals and leaders. And within this environment we have created “Slick University,” a 24-month, real-world, growth track designed to develop Slicksters in three key areas:

  1. Competence: ASE certifications, Slick product delivery and business protocols, etc.
  2. Character: Life skills, personal finance, healthy lifestyle etc.
  3. Leadership: Influence, management skills, communication skills, business skills etc.

Slick University provides intentional coaching to spur real-life development.  

They must choose to embark on the process. Be self-driven to achieve. And when they do, we give them a “Slick University” diploma and throw graduation parties.

So How Is It Going for Us?

Amazingly! But it requires a lot of patience. It is always a little messy. It can't be done in a day, a month or even a year. This is a long-term commitment.

You can blow it all with one bad decision that destroys the trust you have built.

They are smart. They know if you are being authentic. It won’t work if you aren’t. But it can be done. And it is absolutely rewarding.

We got this e-mail two weeks ago:

Thank you again for letting me be a part of this company. I lost my dad to cancer, and he was my hero. Since then, I’ve felt lost. It’s hard becoming a man when you still need advice and guidance. Being a part of Slick has helped me more personally than anyone knows. I’m proud to contribute to the team. — Brandon in Arkansas

Is it worth it? Yes, and it’s priceless. Hopefully our story inspires you to engage your workforce in a similar fashion. They are worth it.

Paul Gillmore is president of Slick, a mobile services and SAAS platform for commercial fleets and fixed asset operators.

Originally posted on Automotive Fleet